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Primary prevention benefits of aspirin

Aspirin does have primary prevention benefits for cardiovascular events, a new meta-analysis has confirmed.

But the protective effect is different for the sexes, with men benefiting from reduced risk of myocardial infarction and women from reduced risk of ischaemic stroke.

Analysis of results from six trials on nearly 100,000 people found aspirin reduced risk of MI by 32 per cent in men and stroke by 17 per cent in women.

It also increased risk of bleeding by 72 per cent in men and 68 per cent in women, according to the study, published in JAMA this week.

Study leader Dr David Brown, chief of cardiovascular medicine at Stony Brook University Hospital in the US, said: 'Our results are particularly noteworthy for the beneficial effect of aspirin on the risk of stroke for women and on the risk of MI for men.

'Aspirin use is also associated with a significant risk of major bleeding irrespective of sex. Beneficial and harmful effects should be considered by physician and patient before initiating aspirin for primary prevention for cardiovascular disease.'

Dr Rubin Minhas, CHD lead for Medway PCT and a GP in Gillingham, said: 'Use of aspirin in primary prevention is not clear-cut. This meta-analysis supports the Women's Health Study findings that effects of aspirin may differ between sexes.

'It is vital to take into account the patient's CVD risk and the potential of GI bleeding.'

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